Tiger Salamander

Black and yellow salamander crosses a road.
The distinct yellow splotches, broad head, and scale-less skin are clearly visible as this Arizona tiger salamander crosses pavement.

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Scientific name

Arizona Tiger Salamander: Ambystoma mavortium nebulosum

Utah Tiger Salamander: Ambystoma tigrinium utahensis

Identification

  • Adults can grow up to 13.6 inches (34.5cm) long. They are stocky with a broad head, small beady eyes, and a rounded snout.Both species have varying combinations of light and dark dorsal spots, giving them the name tiger salamander.
  • Larvae will have three gills on each side of their head. Early in development they lack legs.

Habitat

  • Underground burrows in the coniferous forests on the rims of the Grand Canyon.
  • Usually lives near the still or sluggish water of ponds, rain pools, and cattle tanks.

Behavior

  • Most commonly seen during breeding season in mid-winter to late spring, when they reproduce in pools and ponds.
  • Tiger salamanders are considered “mole salamanders,” because they spend the majority of the time in their burrows.
  • Eat a wide variety of surface and subterranean invertebrates. Adults will also eat larger prey, including tadpoles, lizards, small snakes, and mice.
 

More Information

National Geographic

BioKIDS

Last updated: March 7, 2016

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